Wine storage business Wine Ark keeps a keen eye on the two million bottles it keeps for customers to see what they’re collecting and this year, for the first time in since 2007, Penfolds Grange has lost the title of Australia’s most collected wine to its cheaper relative, dubbed “Baby Grange”, at 1/10th of the price.
But luckily for Treasury Wine Estates, owners of Penfolds, it’s another wine from that portfolio – the Bin 389 shiraz cabernet, which sells for around $75 compared to the $750 the current 2011 vintage of Bin 95 Grange commands.
Wine Ark, which has 16 storage cellars around the country, releases its snapshot of the wines people are putting down every three years and the new top 50 appears to show that collectors are shifting from status to savvy, with a clear increase chardonnay being put down.
Penfolds is by far the most popular brand, with eight entries in the top 50, and shiraz the most popular variety, taking up half the entire list, so it’s no surprise that the Barossa is the most popular wine region with seven entries, followed by Margaret River, the Clare Valley and Coonawarra with six each.
The 2016 top 50 has 9 whites and 41 reds. Perhaps the surprising thing is that Australian collectors don’t think more laterally about the white wines they age. Business Insider has tried 20-year-old Cloudy Bay sauvignon blanc and it was amazing – not that we’d recommend putting down sauv blancs – but semillon, riesling, marsanne and even chenin blanc (we’ve had a 40-year-old Best’s chenin blanc that blew the mind of the sommelier we shared it with) are all possibilities, although you’d do it for drinking, rather than investment purposes.
The fact that two of the three rieslings collected are from Jeffrey Grosset in the Clare Valley – his ‘Springvale’ Watervale, and the Polish Hill – suggests collectors have an eye on the investment market as much as the date to open the bottle. One one semillon makes the cut – the famed Tyrells Vat 1 at 17. Even Penfolds can’t crack the top 50 with its whites.
But chardy still has a soft spot among collectors. Rick Kinzbrunner’s cult $125 Giaconda chardonnay from Beechworth, Victoria is in favour, rising 32 places to make the list at 25. Tyrrell’s Vat 47 Hunter Valley chardonnay is another, up 31 places to scrape in at 46.
Wine writer Campbell Mattinson argues those choices show collectors aren’t being trendy.
“For all the talk, for instance, of new Australian chardonnay styles, two of the biggest (upward) movers on the collector list are Lake’s Folly Chardonnay and Giaconda Chardonnay, both invariably made in a fuller style. Australian wine collectors listen and learn but ultimately think for themselves. That’s why we crave these lists. They keep things real. The chattering folk can say whatever they want; this is what’s actually happening,” he said.
There’s also some smart buying going on. Mattinson rated the Seppelt Chalambar shiraz at 95 points and you can pick up bottles for around $21. St Hallett’s Blackwell shiraz is another for the bargain hunters at about $30 a bottle, jumping 44 places to 41st.
Wine Ark’s John Cuff says there are six new entries on the latest top 50, but the top 10 has stayed the same since the 2013 list.
He reckons the shift to 389 reflects its widespread popularity and accessibility.
“Penfolds Grange is arguably the most collectable Australian wine. We know its amazing power and finesse, steeped in history; however it sells for a hefty price. The Penfolds 389 Shiraz Cabernet is considered by most collectors to be a cellar staple. I believe you would be hard pressed finding a cellar that doesn’t have at least a few bottles of 389 and our results clearly illustrate this,” he said.
Cuff adds that growth in Melbourne explains the increased presence of Victorian wines
Here’s Wine Ark’s snapshot from 2016.
And here are the company’s most collected Australian wines of 2016:
1 Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz Blend Various Regions
2 Penfolds Bin 95 Grange Shiraz Various Regions
3 Penfolds St Henri Shiraz Various Regions
4 Lake’s Folly Cabernets Cabernet Blend Hunter
5 Moss Wood Cabernet Sauvignon Margaret River
6 Cullen Diana Madeline Cabernet Blend Margaret River
7 Rockford Basket Press Shiraz Barossa Valley
8 Wynns Coonawarra Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Coonawarra
9 Grosset Polish Hill Riesling Clare Valley
10 Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier Canberra District
11 Mount Mary Quintet Cabernet Blend Yarra Valley
12 Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay Margaret River
13 Penfolds Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon Various Regions
14 Penfolds RWT Shiraz Barossa Valley
15 Penfolds Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon Various Regions
16 Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz Various Regions
17 Tyrrell’s Vat 1 Semillon Hunter
18 Wynns Coonawarra Estate John Riddoch Cabernet Sauvignon Coonawarra
19 Henschke Mount Edelstone Shiraz Eden Valley
20 d’Arenberg The Dead Arm Shiraz McLaren Vale
21 Petaluma Coonawarra Cabernet Merlot Coonawarra
22 Voyager Estate Cabernet Merlot Margaret River
23 Lake’s Folly Chardonnay Hunter
24 Orlando St Hugo Cabernet Sauvignon Coonawarra
25 Giaconda Estate Chardonnay Beechworth
26 Yarra Yering Dry Red No 1 Cabernet Blend Yarra Valley
27 Petaluma Hanlin Hill Riesling Clare Valley
28 Jasper Hill Georgia’s Paddock Shiraz Heathcote
29 Rockford Rifle Range Cabernet Sauvignon Barossa Valley
30 Torbreck Runrig Shiraz Viognier Barossa Valley
31 Seppelt Chalambar Shiraz Various Regions – VIC
32 Henschke Hill of Grace Shiraz Eden Valley
33 Seppelt St Peters Shiraz Grampians
34 Grosset ‘Springvale’ Watervale Riesling Clare Valley
35 Tyrrell’s Vat 9 Shiraz Hunter
36 Penfolds Bin 128 Shiraz Coonawarra
37 Mount Langi Ghiran Langi Shiraz Grampians
38 Wynns Coonawarra Estate Michael Shiraz Coonawarra
39 Kilikanoon Wines Oracle Shiraz Clare Valley
40 Peter Lehmann Stonewell Shiraz Barossa Valley
41 St Hallett Blackwell Shiraz Barossa Valley
42 A.P. Birks Wendouree Shiraz Clare Valley
43 Turkey Flat Shiraz Barossa Valley
44 Dalwhinnie Moonambel Shiraz Pyrenees
45 Brokenwood Graveyard Shiraz Hunter
46 Tyrrell’s Vat 47 Chardonnay Hunter
47 Giaconda Warner Vineyard Shiraz Beechworth
48 Cape Mentelle Cabernet Sauvignon Margaret River
49 Grosset Gaia Cabernet Franc Merlot Clare Valley
50 Pierro Chardonnay Margaret River
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